The Akepa is a species that was found in many colors and on three islands. There were three subspecies of the Akepa; however, only one remains today.
- ?Akepa, Loxops coccineus
- Maui ?Akepa, Loxops (coccineus) ochraceus - extinct (1988)
- O?ahu ?Akepa, Loxops (coccineus) wolstenholmei - extinct (1990s)
The Hawaiian Akepa is a species of Hawaiian Honeycreeper that is found only in the higher elevation forests of Hawai'i. It is a small four inch long bird that has a rounded head, two small black eyes, black wing tips and tail and a orange body. The females are more duller and tend to be a greenish grey color, with a yellowish belly. The juveniles are similar to the females but are smaller. All the birds have a unusual crossbill that is not well seen, it uses this bill to open flowers and reach the sweet nectar from inside. These species is usually found above 1,100 meters up to 2,200 meters above sea level. This species is a large congregate and is found in larger flocks with its own kind. It is also well known in mixed species populations.
Distrubution and Relatives
The Hawaii Akepa is found as three main populations one at Hamukau Volcano Area, Upper forest areas of Kau and the northern slope of Hualalai. Ths bird's subspecies were once found on the islands of Maui and Oahu but these populations have vanished or at best are exceptionally extinct. The Oahu population was found up till the early 1990s when much of its lowland forest had been degraded. The Maui population was found near the Haleakala Peak. This population was spotted at low numbers till 1992, where the last recorded sighting was document. There are still reports of a green yellow bird still flying in the reserves pointing to the fact that there may be individuals remaining but this is very unlikely. Its close relative the Akeke'e was once to be another subspecies of Loxops, but was evident in the 1990s that this bird was different in coloring, nesting, songs and degree of sexual dimorphism.
This species is highly depended on Koa and O'hia-lehea trees where it gets much of its food. The Koas provide most of the protein as many kinds of insects exist under the branches of this tree. The O'hia-lehea provide the nectar that this bird savors. Its short blossoms allow this small bird to reach its nectar reserves from the flower.
These birds have a breeding season from the winter to early spring, during this time the male and female pair go of in search of natural tree cavities. This is the only bird that actively uses cavities for nests. The Akiapolo'au is the only bird that also uses tree cavities but are mainly used as places to find sap instead as a safe haven. This bird goes off in large groups in courtship groups as breeding season continues on, this is strange because this species makes permanent bonds. Another interesting thing is the fact for being such a small bird, it does not lay many eggs, usually one to two eggs instead of the three to five of other similar sized species.
This bird has been threatened by many reasons. The first is the fact that cattle and other hoofed animals have been released and have caused the clearing of native trees. However, the most effective of all the factors is habitat degradation. As alien flora is introduced, there is no increase of land and the native and alien flora compete to survive. Most of the time the native flora is up-staged and are removed while the un-native flora takes up this space. This increase of alien plants and decrease of native flora like the Koa and O'hia has caused the Akepa to loss much of its food sources and useable habitat. Most of these introduced plants were brought in by Europeans for decor, farming, medicine and by accident. Also an awful loss is the logging of older trees, these trees are usually the ones that have the tree cavities that are necessary for breeding, with out them, there may not be enough places were chicks can hatch. Scientists of course are trying their best to save this species. Artificial nest boxes were placed and even though only one out of sixty-nine have been used, it has been used many times by the same pair.